Hasan Yahya, former professor of Comparative sociology
In part of the Arab Manifesto Project
In previous articles under this series: a reminder for readers is in order to read in my books or on the internet. “Personalities I Admire” is a series I wrote so far, on the following personalities: Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); Sayf bin The Yazan, Alexander the Great, Ibn Sina, Taha Hussein, Al Mutanabbi, Abul Alaa al Maarri, Khadijah bint Khuailed (ra), Huda Shaarawi, Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, Ghada al Samman, Naji al Ali, Gubran Khalil Jubran, Omar al Shereef, Jane Fonda, Edward Said, Plato, Socrates, Bertrand Russell, Dante, al Ghazali, al Farabi, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Khaled bin al Waleed, Tariq bin Ziyad, Mahatma Gandhi, al Mansour of Baghdad, Solomon Asch, Watson and Stanley Milgram,National Heroes of Norway, “Che” Guevara, Alfred Bernhard Nobel, Ahmad ibn Majid, Ibn Khaldun, Darwin, Imam al Hussein bin Ali (The Martyr of Karbala) (ra), Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and many othe personalities I don’t recall in this moment. In this article we present a great personality fulfilling the role of a just ruler, with supremacy of laws. Hammurabi, the Babylonian.
At the preface of the Code of Laws, Hammurabi describes his role as a ruler, he says:
“When Marduk (God’s name of the time) sent me to rule over men, to give the protection حماية of right to the land, I did right and righteousness, and brought about the well-being of the oppressed.”
Hammurabi the King: At the end of the code of laws, Hammurabi declares that he is the rightful king to establish order and perform justice to achieve well-being of his subjects especially those who have been oppressed by powerful and wealthy subjects. He defines himself as:
“Hammurabi is a ruler who is as a father to his subjects, who holds the words of Marduk in reverence, who has achieved conquest for Marduk over the north and south, who rejects the heart of Marduk, his lord, who has bestowed benefits for ever and ever on his subjects, and has established order in the land.”
The prologue or introduction to the list of laws is very enlightening. Hammurabi states that he wants “to make justice visible in the land, to destroy the wicked person and the evil-doer, that the strong might not injure the weak.” The laws themselves support this compassionate claim, and protect widows, orphans and others from being harmed or exploited.
Hammurabi’s laws covered the subjects of, Religion, Military, service, Trade, Slavery and The duties of workers. Before we describe his laws, let’s give a brief biography to the man-king.
The most famous law reads: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” This phrase, along with the idea of written laws, goes back to ancient Mesopotamian culture that prospered long before the Bible was written or the civilizations of the Greeks or Romans flowered.
“An eye for an eye …” is a paraphrase of Hammurabi’s Code, a collection of 282 laws inscribed on an upright stone pillar.
The phrase “an eye for an eye” represents what many people view as a harsh sense of justice based on revenge. But, the entire code is much more complex than that one phrase. The code distinguishes among punishments for wealthy or noble persons, lower-class persons or commoners, and slaves.
Hammurabi was anAkkadian from Amorite known as “the kinsman is a healer”, (died c. 1750 BC) was the sixth king of Babylon from 1792 BC to 1750 BC, and ruled for 42 years. He became the first king of the Babylonian Empire following the abdication of his father, Sin-Muballit extending Babylon’s control over Mesopotamia by winning a series of wars against neighboring kingdoms. Although his empire controlled all of Mesopotamia at the time of his death, his successors were unable to maintain his empire.
When he began ruling the city-state of Babylon, he had control of no more than 50 square miles of territory. As he conquered other city-states and his empire grew, he saw the need to unify the various groups he controlled.
Hammurabi in his codes of law, was the first written codes of law in recorded history. These laws were inscribed on stone tablets standing over eight feet tall (2.4 meters), found in Persia in 1901. Owing to his reputation in modern times celebrating his role, as an ancient law-giver, just king, many government buildings throughout the world. show Hammurabi’s portrait in their yards. The Code of Hammurabi is the longest surviving text from the Old Babylonian period as an early example of a fundamental law regulating a government. A primitive form of what is now known as a constitution.
Some of the codes are for example,
249. If any one hire an ox, and God strike it that it die, the man who hired it shall swear by God and be considered guiltless.
273. If any one hire a day laborer, he shall pay him from the New Year until the fifth month (April to August, when days are long and the work hard) six gerahs in money per day; from the sixth month to the end of the year he shall give him five gerahs per day.
And the last of laws reads:
282. If a slave say to his master: “You are not my master,” if they convict him his master shall cut off his ear.
- Arnold, Bill T. (2005). Who Were the Babylonians?. Brill Publishers. ISBN 90-04-13071-3. OCLC 225281611.
- Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. OCLC 39762695
- Breasted, James Henry (2003). Ancient Time or a History of the Early World, Part 1. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4946-3. OCLC 69651827 .
- Davies, W. W. (January 2003). Codes of Hammurabi and Moses. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-3124-6. OCLC 227972329
- DeBlois, Lukas (1997). An Introduction to the Ancient World. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12773-4. OCLC 231710353 .
- Van De Mieroop, Marc (2005). King Hammurabi of Babylon: A Biography. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-4051-2660-4. OCLC 255676990.
- Yahya, Hasan A. Personalities I Admire, forthcoming book script, (expected september, 2012)
- Yahya, Hasan A.. Muhammad (pbuh) Rasul al Bashariyyah, (The Prophet of Humanity), Arabic,ISBN: 1453760369